The Soundies Distributing Corporation of America photographs span the years 1940-1946 and encompass 3
linear feet. The collection contains a total of 1,119 photographic prints from some 1,100 films. The
photographs were intended for publicity purposes and document the performers appearing in the films,
including musicians, singers, and dancers, as well as an occasional songwriter.
The Soundies Distributing Corporation of America issued filmed musical shorts for their proprietary
jukebox, the "Panoram," between 1940 and 1947. The playback machines were made by the Mills Novelty
Company in Chicago, a leading manufacturer of jukeboxes. The Soundies Corporation executive offices and
general headquarters were in Chicago, with exchanges there and in Los Angeles and New York. Gordon B.
Mills, one of several Mills brothers associated with the Mills Novelty Company, served as president, and
James Roosevelt assumed the role of vice president. Three-minute black-and-white 16mm films with optical
soundtracks were rear-projected on a small self-contained screen. Subjects included band, dance, and
vocal performances of popular, novelty, and ethnic songs. The music covered genres from big band to
country to jazz, with artists performing to a prerecorded music track. Dancers, vaudeville acts,
comedians, and others also were programmed. Producers William D. Alexander, William Forest Crouch, Ben
Hersh, Dick Hyland, Arthur Leonard, and directors Dudley Murphy, Josef Berne, and others were responsible
at various times for the creation of the musical short subjects. Production companies include
Cinemasters, Inc.; Mills Globe; Minoco Productions, a Mills Novelty Company subsidiary; and R.C.M.
Productions, which took its name from Roosevelt, songwriter Sam Coslow, and Herbert Mills. Some 1,800
Soundies were produced and distributed.
Property rights to the physical object belong to the Margaret Herrick Library. Researchers are
responsible for obtaining all necessary rights, licenses, or permissions from the appropriate companies
or individuals before quoting from or publishing materials obtained from the library.